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359th Meier Crew
Russell W. Meier, Pilot
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B-17G Thunderbird #42-38050 (BN-U)
(crew assigned 359BS: 20 Apr 1944 - photo: 06 May 1944)

(Back L-R) 1Lt Russell M. Meier (P)(1), Capt John W. Reed (CP)(2),
1Lt Alan M. Prince (N)(3), Ralph Smith (B)(4)[Not in photo]

(Front L-R) S/Sgt Vernon Richard (BT)(5), T/Sgt Joseph Q. Connors (R)(5),
S/Sgt Emmett J. Danford (E)(5), T/Sgt Smith K. Colley (WG)(6),
Sgt Archie H. Hinson (WG)(7), S/Sgt Ashley Butler (TG)(5)

[Crew ranks and grades at time missions were completed]

Crew Notes:

  1. 1Lt Russell W. Meier (P) - First two missions as CoPilot with mission Instructor Pilots (April 18 & 19, 1944). Completed his 25 mission tour on 21 June 1944.
  2. Capt John W. Reed (CP) - Completed 25 missions on 30 June 1944 Upgraded from CoPilot to Pilot on mission #189, 22 June 1944. Flew 18 additional missions - 12 as a Lead Crew Pilot. Last Mission #268 05 Nov 1944.
  3. 1Lt Alan M. Prince (N) - Original crew Navigator, F/O George H. Counts (not in photo) became a Lead Crew Navigator and was replaced by Lt Prince on mission #146, 7 May 1944. Lt Prince flew 12 missions with Lt Meier Crew (7 May to 4 June 1944). Completed his 30 mission combat tour as a PFF Lead Crew Navigator (18 June to 11 September 1944). Lt Prince was replaced on the Lt Meier crew by Lt Owen H. O'Neil, from the Lt Ernest L. Roth Crew who flew 11 missions with the Lt Meier Crew, 6 missions with the Lt John W. Reed Crew and 9 missions with other Pilots. Lt Prince continued his career in the USAF retiring in 1970 as a Lt. Col. He served in the Korean and Vietnam wars and served as a Navigation Instructor with the 447th B.G. at Castle AFB, CA for many years and as Chief Air Intelligence, Westover AFB, MA. His career took him all the way from B-17s in WWII to B-52s in Vietnam.
  4. Capt Ralph Smith (B) (Not in photo) - Flew his first 5 missions with the Lt Meier Crew and became a Lead Crew Bombardier. Completed his combat tour on 07 April 1945. Was killed in an aircraft accident at Barksdale AFB, LA in 1948. S/Sgt Arthur J. Kolling was assigned to the Lt Meier crew as a Togglier on mission #155, 19 May 1944 and flew 20 missions with Lt Meier. He was originally on the Lt John P. Manning Crew for 7 missions (20 July 1943 to 27 Aug 1943) and then flew 11 missions with other Pilots (29 March 1944 to 12 May 1944) as a Waist Gunner before being assigned to the Lt Meier Crew as Togglier.
  5. S/Sgt Vernon Richard (BTG), T/Sgt Joseph Q. Connors (R), S/Sgt Emmett J. Danford (E), S/Sgt Ashley Butler (TG) Flew their missions with Lt Meier and completed missions with Lt Reed Combat tour completions: Richard 22 June 1944, O'Connors 23 June 1944, Danford 22 June 1944, Butler 29 June 1944.
  6. T/Sgt Smith K. Cooley (WG) - First 14 missions with Lt Meier Crew (20 April to 25 May 1944), another 8 missions with Lt Meier (10 to 21 June 1944),and last 8 missions with Lt John W. Reed (22 June to 6 August 1944).
  7. S/Sgt Archie H. Hinson, Jr. (WG) - Dispatched on 14 combat missions. First 10 missions with Lt Meier (20 April to 20 June 1944), 4 missions with Lt. Reed (24 to 30 June 1944). Lt Meier Crew utilized substitute Waist gunners on 4 missions (11 to 24 May 1944). S/Sgt William E. Titsworth was assigned as the Lt Meier Crew Waist Gunner for 15 missions (24 May to 13 June 1944). S/Sgt Titsworth was originally the Waist Gunner on the Lt Howard D. Dahleen Crew and flew 15 missions with this crew (13 Dec 1943 to 23 March 1944) and 2 missions with other Pilots (29 April and 15 May 1944). S/Sgt Titsworth completed his combat tour on 23 June 1944

[photo courtesy of the Irue Ferguson Family]
[Researched by 303rdBGA Historian Harry D. Gobrecht]